Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Jed Lyons

Abstract

In the United States, engineering doctoral education is largely designed to prepare graduates to become original researchers and work in an academic or a national lab. Yet, the majority of engineering Ph.D. graduates are being employed in industry. This phenomena leads to the question of how well are doctoral programs preparing students to meet industry’s needs. The broad research objective of this work is to contribute to our understanding of how engineering doctoral programs can better prepare graduates for careers in industry.

In order to accomplish the objective, current engineering doctoral programs and non- academic job solicitations for Ph.D. engineers were reviewed. Surveys and interviews were developed and administered in order to understand the skills and work environment of Ph.D. engineers in industry. Results indicate that overall doctoral students’ academic preparation aligns with the needs of industry; however, interdisciplinary teamwork and an understanding of the economics and goals of an industrial work environment could be better addressed.

Several instructional strategies have been identified that develop students’ non-technical skills, but they have not been adequately assessed in the literature. One particular strategy of interest was a seminar series, as it is often required or offered as part of doctoral programs. A non-technical seminar series was developed to investigate how doctoral students perceive the value of skills identified in the job solicitation review and surveys. Results suggest that a seminar series is an effective strategy to help doctoral students gain an awareness of the non- technical skills needed for careers in industry.

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